Veterans Administrative Law Division

Discharge Upgrades


Veterans Administrative Law covers all benefits provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as discharge upgrades within the individual military department (Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, or Department of the Navy). Legal representation in applying for discharge upgrades assists veterans (and their spouses/widow(er)s) in navigating and accessing the benefits which they may not have been able to get on their own. This practice area assists veterans who are struggling with mental health issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress by offering discharge upgrades for individuals with “bad paper” as a result of their PTSD or other mental health issue.

If you are an individual in need of services like these, please complete our brief Intake Form and a member of our team will contact you.

Discharge Upgrades: In General

A discharge upgrade changes the “character of service” shown on your DD-214 discharge document. Today, most certificates show the “character of service” as either Honorable, General (Under Honorable Conditions), Other Than Honorable, Bad Conduct, or Dishonorable.

A change in the reason for your discharge is a change in the “narrative reason for separation” shown on your DD-214. Among the many possible “narrative reasons for separation” are “misconduct,” “disability,” “personality disorder,” and “homosexual conduct.”

If the circumstances of your discharge were the result of Post-Traumatic Disorder (PTSD), your request may be eligible for “liberal” consideration under the “Hagel Memo” and related laws. If the circumstances of your discharge were the result of a mental health condition (including PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or sexual assault/harassment, you may be able to strengthen your application by submitting special types of evidence, in addition to service records, that will also be given “liberal” consideration under the “Kurta Memo.”

We can review your case, and provide you with a free lawyer, if you meet the following criteria:

  • There is an underlying mental health symptomology (diagnosed or undiagnosed) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) that was the cause of the discharge

  • Member was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or prior

  • We find at least one meritorious argument to present to the Discharge Review Board

  • If General (Under Honorable Conditions) discharge, you meet one of the above requirements AND you were in the service after 11 September 2001

Discharge Upgrades: DADT & Prior 


After the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 was signed into law, the brave women and men of our military are able to serve without having to fear they will be discharged because of their sexual orientation. However, the battle has not ended for the estimated 114,000 veterans who were expelled from the military between WWII and 2011 for that very reason.

Many of those servicemembers were discharged with characterizations that were less than Honorable--General Under Honorable or Other Than Honorable (also known as Undesirable). These characterizations follow them for the remainder of their lives, reminding them of the painful experiences that led up to their discharge and disqualification from valuable federal benefits.

Military Assistance Project is working to bring awareness and legal support to veterans in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania applying for discharge upgrades.